July is a time of abundance. We are harvesting cucumbers, tomatoes, French beans, padron peppers and courgettes along with all of the hardier spring sown crops like beetroot, chard, spring onions, kale and the like, as well as lots of salad and herbs. If you want to continue this abundance through the autumn it is an important time to get sowing to replace some of the spring crops.
One of the crops that we sow a lot of at the very beginning of July is chicory. We grow a huge variety, some of our favourites including Treviso “Sel Svelta”, Palla Rossa “Giusto” and “Marzatica”, Castelfranco and Leonardo. The palla rossa and treviso types can be sown a bit earlier (in May and June), whilst most varieties do well from sowing at the very end of June or first week in July. If they are sown too early they tend to bolt, and if sown too late they do not have time to form a proper solid head. Chicory is a great autumn leaf, as it doesn’t suffer from mildew like lettuce does with the cooler nights and damper air of autumn. When the chicory forms dense heads, the inner leaves have a bitter sweetness, which can be balanced with a good dressing—more lemon juice than normal and maybe a little more honey. They are also great when braised or roasted.
We plant chicory in beds that have either had peas, peashoots and broad beans in them, or in beds that have had shallots—these are harvested just before the chicory is ready to plant. We sow chicory seed into module trays, aiming for one seed per cell and plant them out about a month after sowing. Chicory seems to grow pretty easily, providing it has enough water—mulching heavily with compost will help to retain moisture in the soil. We then start harvesting the heads from October (from the July sowings).
We also start sowing a few more of the other autumn leaves for salad through July, such as some of the mustards—Purple Frills, Red Mizuna, Golden Frills along with Rocket, Winter Purslane and Leaf Radish. Flea beetle are still about so it is important to keep the brassica salads covered with a fine mesh (0.6mm holes).
July is a great time to sow fennel—it is less likely to bolt from July sowings, compared to earlier sowings. You can either sow direct or sow into modules. It doesn’t like to be transplanted too much, so try to minimise the shock by getting them into the ground as soon as possible from the modules, and do not let the roots start to fill up the modules too much. Let’s hope for a sunny, warm July!
WHAT TO SOW THIS MONTH: Chicory (see varieties above), endive, summer purslane, winter purslane, mustards, rocket, land cress, chard, beetroot, lettuce, kohl rabi, fennel, broad beans (for tips in salads) & peashoots (at the end of the month), carrots, dill, coriander
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH:
OUTSIDE: fennel, beetroot, lettuce, chard, kale, salad leaves – amaranth, orache, anise hyssop, buckshorn plantain, salad burnet, chervil, endive
INSIDE: summer purslane, late french beans, late cucumbers, basil,
OTHER IMPORTANT TASKS THIS MONTH:
Try to clear beds where crop harvests are coming to the end such as broad beans, peas, spring onions, lettuce and shallots, so that you can put in newly sown crops straight away. We either flail mow old crops and cover with thick silage plastic for 2-3 weeks or remove the crops by cutting them off at ground level and then hoeing the bed before planting.
We are running Salad Growing courses on July 13th and October 19th.
See trillfarmgarden.co.uk/courses for further details.